The Story of Indra and Virochana

Indra and Virochana desire for Self Knowledge

Once Prajapati in the meeting with both devata and asuras announced –

य आत्मापहतपाप्मा विजरो विमृत्युर्विशोको विजिघत्सोऽपिपासः सत्यकामः सत्यसङ्कल्पः सोऽन्वेष्टव्यः स विजिज्ञासितव्यः स सर्वाꣳश्च लोकानाप्नोति सर्वाꣳश्च कामान्यस्तमात्मानमनुविद्य विजानातीति ह प्रजापतिरुवाच ॥ १ ॥

“The Self is pure, free from decay and death, free from hunger and thirst and free from sorrow. This is Atman is truth behind every action and desire. One must seek and know it; the one who have found this Atman he will reach to the the ultimate, and there is nothing more to desire for him.”

Both the Indra and the Virochana heard this statement and thought, “We must know this Atman or Self, knowing which one achieve all the lokas and fulfill all desires.” They both went to Prajapati and requested him to impart this knowledge to them. Prajapati accepted them as his disciples and asked them to stay with him for thirty-two years.

Atman in the Eyes

After thirty two years were completed, Prajapati uttered to them

तौ ह प्रजापतिरुवाच य एषोऽक्षिणि पुरुषो दृश्यत एष आत्मेति होवाचैतदमृतमभयमेतद्ब्रह्मेत्यथ योऽयं भगवोऽप्सु परिख्यायते यश्चायमादर्शे कतम एष इत्येष उ एवैषु सर्वेष्वन्तेषु परिख्यायत इति होवाच ॥ ४ ॥

” That Purusha, that you see in your eyes, that is the Atman. Are you satisfied? I have given you an initiation. This is the immortal, this is fearless, and is Absolute.”

Indra and Virochana without understanding the right, asked further –  “Then, what is reflected in water, is that the Atman?” or “That which is reflected in the mirror, is that also Atman?”

Prajapati replied – “I have said about the purusha who in inside the eyes, he alone is seen everywhere” You both go and see yourself in a bowl of water and then tell me what you see.” They both said, “Lord, we saw this Atman entirely starting from hairs to the nails.”

Than Prajapati told to both of them – “Go and adorn yourself with good clothes and ornaments and then look into the bowl of water and tell me about your experience”

They Both adorned themselves, looked into the bowl of water and replied to Prajapati, “We saw ourselves well dressed, well groomed and well adorned, similarly this Atman is also well dressed, well groomed and well adorned”. “This is Atman, the immortal and fearless, the Brahman” thus confirmed Prajapati to them.

When both Indra and Virochana without understanding Atman left, than Prajapati uttered –   “They both are going without realizing the Atman, whether they are gods or demons they will inevitably perish without knowing the true Atman”

Physical Body taken as Atman

Virochana went to the demons and said

आत्मैवेह महय्य आत्मा परिचर्य आत्मानमेवेह महयन्नात्मानं परिचरन्नुभौ लोकाववाप्नोतीमं चामुं चेति |

In this world Atman ( being taken as physical body ) alone should be worshipped, Atman alone should be served. The one who worship and serve this Atman ( physical body ) he alone obtains the world here and hereafter.

तस्मादप्यद्येहाददानमश्रद्दधानमयजमानमाहुरासुरो बतेत्यसुराणाꣳ ह्येषोपनिषत्प्रेतस्य शरीरं भिक्षया वसनेनालङ्कारेणेति सꣳस्कुर्वन्त्येतेन ह्यमुं लोकं जेष्यन्तो मन्यन्ते ॥ ५ ॥

That is why the one who does not donate, who does not have devotion and who does not offer oblation, to him people refer as “Asura”. These Upanishads too being to Asuras. Asuras only give donations , clothes and ornaments to a dead boy with a view that by doing this we will achieve another world.

Indra was different from Virochana. He realized that something is wrong with what he has just learnt about the Atman. He thought that when this physical body is decorated, the Atman is also decorated. When this body adorn new clothes, Atman also adorn new clothes, similarly when one’s physical body becomes blind, Atman becomes blind, when one’s body is defective the Atman becomes defective. If a body is destroyed or dead, then does the Atman also get destroyed ?

He went back to Prajapati and uttered his thought and said “Lord, I am not fully understood this Atman”. Prajapati was happy with Indra and asked Indra to stay with him for another thirty-two years.

Atman in the Dream State

At the end of that period Prajapati called him and said –

य एष स्वप्ने महीयमानश्चरत्येष आत्मेति होवाचैतदमृतमभयमेतद्ब्रह्मेति

“The Self is that which moves in joy in the dream state is Atman. This is the immortal, this is fearless, and is Absolute “

Indra seemed to be satisfied, but as he went again doubt came into his mind “Though this physical body becomes blind but the self in dream state is not blind. This physical body becomes defective but the self in dream state is not defective.  Similarly In dreams one suffers, one is wounded, one weeps when afflicted. The fearless and sinless Atman cannot be subject to such happenings. This does not seem to be the truth”

Atman in the Deep Sleep State

He came back before Prajapati requesting him to explain the truth of Atman. Again after practicing brahmacharya for another thirty two years Prajapati said to him.

तद्यत्रैतत्सुप्तः समस्तः सम्प्रसन्नः स्वप्नं न विजानात्येष आत्मेति होवाचैतदमृतमभयमेतद्ब्रह्मेति 

“In that Sushupti state where this self is in sleep and does not have any perception, neither he is going through a dream , there it is called as Atman. This is the immortal, this is fearless, and is Absolute ”

Indra again satisfied started his journey towards home , but again his mind is covered by doubts. He went back to Prajapati and asked – “In Sushupti the self is not aware of it’s existence, he also doesn’t perceive any objects. It is like a thing which has been dead. I cannot see the correct knowledge here”

This time Prajapati was more pleased with Indra and told him to spend another five more years with him. Indra practiced brahmacharaya at Prajapati place for total one hundred and one years to understand the self knowledge.

After Five year were completed, Prajapati again said to Indra

मघवन्मर्त्यं वा इदꣳ शरीरमात्तं मृत्युना तदस्यामृतस्याशरीरस्यात्मनोऽधिष्ठानमात्तो वै सशरीरः प्रियाप्रियाभ्यां न वै सशरीरस्य सतः प्रियाप्रिययोरपहतिरस्त्यशरीरं वाव सन्तं न प्रियाप्रिये स्पृशतः ॥ १ ॥

“This body is subject to death yet it embodies the deathless and bodiless Atman. This embodied Self falls into the trap of likes and dislikes, as long as the Atman resides in the body it cannot leave the likes and dislikes. but when this Atman is without embodiment the likes and dislikes cannot touch it”

This time when Indra went back to impart this knowledge to the gods, he had no doubt. The gods received the true knowledge and therefore live in the full knowledge of their Self.

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